Home>Legislature>In 2nd district, Democratic Assembly incumbents re-elected for the first time

Steven Perskie as a 28-year-old Assemblyman from Atlantic County in 1972.

In 2nd district, Democratic Assembly incumbents re-elected for the first time

Mazzeo, Armato are the first two Atlantic County Democratic assemblymen to ever win re-election on the same ticket

By David Wildstein, November 15 2019 6:17 pm

The re-election of Vince Mazzeo (D-Northfield) and John Armato (D-Buena Vista) marks the first time two Democratic incumbents have been re-elected to the New Jersey State Assembly in the 2nd district.

Democrats won two Assembly seats in 1971, when the legendary Atlantic County Republican boss Frank S. “Hap” Farley (R-Ventnor) lost his bid for re-election to the State Senate after 30 years in the seat to Democrat Joseph McGahn, the mayor of Absecon.

Democrats Steven Perskie (D-Margate) and James Colasurdo (D-Hammonton) won the two Atlantic County Assembly seats, ousting incumbent Samuel Curcio (R-Hammonton) and his running mate, Howard Haneman.

Two years earlier, Curcio and Republican Albert Smith, a former Assembly Speaker, had won re-election by over 19,000 votes.

Perskie was re-elected in 1973, but Colasurdo didn’t run again and was replaced on  the Democratic ticket by Charles Worthington (D-Brigantine).  They defeated Curcio and Howard Kupperman (R-Longport).

Worthington gave up his Assembly seat in 1975 to become the first Atlantic County Executive.  Kupperman won the open seat, with Perskie winning a third term.  This was the first time the 2nd district seats were split between Democrats and Republicans.

In 1977, Perskie moved up to the Senate.  He won a three-way race when McGahn, who lost party support to run for a third term, ran as an Independent.

Democrat Michael Matthews (D-Linwood) easily won Perskie’s open seat.  Republican Bill Gormley (R-Margate) edged out Kupperman by 345 votes.

Gormley won a 1982 special election for Senate when Perskie resigned to become a Superior Court Judge.

Matthews wound up moving to Atlantic City and getting elected mayor, setting up two open seats in the 1983.  Republicans won them both: J. Edward Kline (R-Brigantine) and C. Delores Cooper (R-Atlantic City).

With Jim Florio carrying Atlantic County in his 1989 gubernatorial bid, Democrat Fred Scerni (D-Galloway) unseated Kline by 390 votes.  Cooper won by 2,385.

Cooper did not seek a fifth term in 1993 and Republicans John Gaffney (R-Egg Harbor Township) and Fred Nickles (R-Mays Landing) won both seats.  Nickles defeated Scerni by 440 votes.  Democrat Tom Foley (D-Pleasantville) ran 2,738 votes behind Gaffney.

Foley ran again in 1993 and defeated Nickles by 331 votes.  Gaffney won by more than 4,000.

Gaffney died in 1995 and Republicans Frank Blee (R-Absecon) and Kenneth LeFevre (R-Brigantine) won the two Assembly seats.  Blee outpolled Foley by 3,060 votes.

LeFevre did not seek re-election in 2001 and was replaced by Republican Paul D’Amato (R-Linwood).  Scerni mounted a comeback but lost by over 6,000 votes.

D’Amato split with the GOP and later switched parties; Republican Kirk Conover won the seat by a wide margin.

In 2005, popular former Atlantic City Mayor Jim Whelan ran for Assembly and crushed Conover by more than 7,000 votes.  Blee was re-elected over Democrat Damon Tyner.

After two years in the Assembly, Whelan ran for Senate and unseated incumbent Sonny McCullough, who had defeated Blee in a special election when Gormley left the Senate early.

Blee declined to seek re-election to the Assembly and Republicans John Amodeo (R-Margate) and Vince Polistina (R-Egg Harbor Township) won the two open seats.

Polistina left the Assembly in 2011 to unsuccessfully take on Whelan and his open seat was won by Chris Brown (R-Ventnor).

Mazzeo ran for the first time in 2013 and squeaked out a 40-vote win over Amodeo.

Armato won the seat in 2017 when Brown gave up his seat to run for the Senate when Whelan retired.

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